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, • BROOKLINE TAVERNS 

/JiW^f by Gorham Dana 

It is a far cry from the old Brookline taverns of colonial days 
to the many attractive hotels of today - more especially the two 
larger ones: The Eeaconsfield on Beacon Street, built in 1895, and 
Longwood Towers on Chapel Street, built in 1926 and originally called 
Alden Park Manor. But the old taverns were perhaps as notable in 
their day as the modern hotels are today. 

Brookline in colonial days was the principal entrance to Boston 
from the west and north. The old Sherburne Road, (now Walnut Street) 
and Heath Street brought the bulk of the travel from New York and 
the west to Punch Bowl Village, (now called Brookline Village) while 
Washington Street and College Road (now called Harvard Street) brought 
the traffic from Brighton, Cambridge and beyond to the same centre. 
Prom here it crossed Muddy River on a small bridge on the site of the 
present inconspicuous bridge close to the overpass ; to the old road on 
the Roxbury side, now called Huntington Avenue, and continuing by way 
of Parker Hill and Roxbury Crossing to the centre of Boston. In the 
early days the three^ Brookline taverns were all located on well- 
traveled through roads: the Punch Bowl y in what is now Brookline Vil- 
lage, the Dana Tavern^in Harvard Square at the junction of Washington 
and Harvard Streets, and the Richards Tavern, in the Chestnut Hill 
section on Sherburne Road (now Heath Street) where Hammond Street now 
crosses it. 

PUNCH BOWL TAVERN 
This famous tavern on the east side of Washington Street in" Brook- 
line Village was built in 1717 as a dwelling house by James Goddard. 
Being in a strategic location for catering to the travelers going to 
Boston, it was enlarged by John Ellis and converted into a tavern 
which for nearly one hundred years was a famous stopping place for 



Brookline Taverns 2 

travelers. After John Ellis, the proprietors were William Whitney, 
Eleazer Baker, Eliphalet Spurr, and William Laughton. Then followed 
in 1820 Franklin Gerry, in 1826 Louis Boutell, and in 1827 Will ism 
Jenerson. As new facilities for travel came into use and the old stage 
coaches became obsolete, the need for a tavern in Brookline Village 
gradually diminished and the old tavern was torn doY/n in 1835, 

The original building was a modest two-story hipped roof house in 
which Mr, Goddard lived several years. In 1740 John Ellis, the second 
owner, realized the need of a tavern in the neighborhood and started 
enlarging the house and using it as a public tavern. A number of old 
houses were moved to adjoin the original building and, according to 
Miss Harriet Wood, "making a curious medley of old rooms of all sorts 
and sizes connected together in a nondescript manner and presenting 
an architectural style which we might call a conglomerate." This 
structure and the necessary out -buildings finally occupied a street 
front of several hundred feet extending from the present theatre be- 
yond Pearl Street nearly to Brookline Avenue. A bench extending 
along the street front under the eaves offered a convenient resting 
place for the neighbors to congregate, swap yarns, and watch the great 
events of the day: the arrival of the New York and Uxbridge stages. 
There were large trees at each end of the main building and an old 
pump in front. The famous Punch Bowl sign hung from a high red post 
at the left of the building, and on this was pictured an overflowing 
punch bowl with ladle/ under a lemon tree with lemons lying on the 
ground .below. A lemon tree in cold New England seems a bit incon- 
gruous, but it made rather a pretty picture. Inside the tavern was 
a ball room, a large dining-room and, as in all taverns, a popular 
tap room. 



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Brookline Taverns 3 

There was heavy traffic through Punch Bowl Village at that time 
as there was no railway or street cars, and all the traffic to Boston 
from the north and west was by wagon or stage coach passing along this 
route in front of the tavern. It was not uncommon to find a line of 
waiting vehicles extending from what is now Kent Street (then Harrison 
Place) to Brookline Avenue. A brook at the present railroad crossing 
supplied water for the horses, and the tavern tap room supplied 
stronger liquid refreshment for the travelers. The slogan of the old 
tavern, "We offer refreshment for man and beast" was well chosen. It 
was many years before the Mill Dam (Brookline Avenue) and Huntington 
Avenue were built. 

Besides the traveling public, the tavern was popular for dances 
and balls. The belles of Boston, accompanied by the beaa. brummels or 
by British officers (before the Revolution), would drive out from 
Boston to enjoy the hospitality of the famous tavern. It was also a 
favorite meeting-place for Brookline citizens, for here the old volun- 
teer fire companies would meet and argue about their by-laws which 
were frequently being changed. Here also the town officials held 
dinners and receptions. Many of the selectmen's meetings were held 
in the tavern, preceded by a sumptuous dinner. At least one of the 
proprietors was on the Board of Selectmen. After one of the meetings 
the tavern caught fire, probably from a soiled table cloth having 
been stuffed into a closet rather too hastily. It was a bitterly 
cold night, but the alert proprietor* was awakened and rushed downstairs 
in his night clothes. He extinguished the fire by throwing on a pail 
of garbage, - the only fire extinguisher that was handy. 

The story is also told of a notable occasion at the Tavern in 1783 
when Selectman Joshua Boylston, a nephew of the famous Dr. Zabdiel 
Boylston who first introduced inoculation for small pox into this 



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Brookline Taverns 4 

country, attended a selectmen's dinner here. He was rather a reserved 
and stem man of about 55 years who had never married. Squire Sharp, 
the town clerk and also a bachelor, was present, and there was some 
bantering directed toward the two bachelors regarding marriage. When 
asked why he had never married, Selectman Boylston replied that he had 
never found any one who would take him. Abigail Baker, sister of the 
landlord of the inn, a cheerful trim little body of about 40 years, 
was waiting on table, and to the astonishment of the company remarked, 
"I will have you, Mr. Boylston." "Squire Sharp", said Boylston, "do 
you hear that? Publish the banns next Sunday." When he found that 
the banns had not been published he asked the Squire why. "I thought 
it was all a joke", replied the clerk. "Publish them next week or I 
will prosecute", he was told by the irate selectman. This was done, 
and they were married and apparently lived happily ever after. 

It is interesting to note in the Curtis history of Brookline, 

//Un- 
published by the Historical Society^ on April 19, 1776, ttwl ~the 

British troops that had gone by boat across the Charles River to East 

Cambridge and thence to Lexington had met with resistance and called 

for reinforcements. Lord Percy was sent to their aid and marched his 

detachment over Boston neck up /the hill by the Roxbury meeting-house, 

over Parker Hill, into and through Punch Bowl Village on the way to 

Lexington. The habitues of Punch Bowl Tavern must have found this 

an exciting event, long to be remembered. 

In due course the British troops were withdrawn, the War of the 

Revolution was won, and the old tavern returned to its peaceful life. 

But conditions gradually changed and the stage coach gave way to new 

methods of transportation. The need for a tavern in Brookline Vill^f* 

gradually disappeared, and the old Punch Bowl was torn down in 1833. 



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On the site was soon built a large frame building with stores on the 
first floor and called Lyceum Hall. This hall was famous for Lyceum 
lectures so popular at that time and for various other meetings. It 



stores and the Brookline Theatre. 

In 1949 the Historical Society appointed a committee of three, con- 
sisting of Daniel G. Lacy, James M. Driscoll, and Miss Elizabeth Bur- 
rage to arrange for a bronze tablet to be placed on the site of Punch 
Bowl Tavern. They decided that the proper location was on the Brook- 
line Theatre just south of the main entrance. Mr. Lacy soon gained 
the enthusiastic consent of the owner, Mr. Morris Sharaf !* , and the 
tablet was cast following the design made by Mr. Arthur Spooner of 
the Brookline Engineering Department. 

On November 19, 1949 the tablet was unveiled by President Bertram 
K. Little of the Historical Society before a group of about 25 members 
An address was made by Mrs. Sharaff, who spoke inspiringly of the im- 
portance of such reminders of the past, and stating, "Let us try to 
outmatch the strength of former links in the long chain of American 
destiny and avoid their weaknesses". Qio*}\(*w D ■ C/l-^^, 

The wording of the tablet is as follows: 



On this site stood the Punch Bowl Tavern. 

Built as a dwelling by James Goddard in 1717. 

It was enlarged by John Ellis in 1740 and was 
for nearly a century a famous tavern frequented 
by travellers between Boston and the West. 

Erected by the Brookline Historical Society in 1949. 



Thus ends the history of Brookline 1 s most famous tavern. 



was torn 




make room for the present block of modern 



DANA TAVERN 



This old tavern was located at the junction of Harvard and Washing 

ton Streets at Harvard Square. The building, of which no picture now 

~ * — — 

remains, was a large gamble -roofed structure with out-buildings, and 
covered a large area, taking much of the land between those streets 
for a considerable distance back from Harvard Square. It was not as 
famous as the Punch Bowl Tavern, as it had no ball room, and catered 
mostly to out of town produce dealers. The only hay scales in town 
at that time were in front of the building. 

Jonathan Dana, the proprietor, was born in Cambridge, Massachu- 
setts in 1736 and died in Brookline in 1812. He was a great grand- 
son of Richard Dana who came to Cambridge about 1640 and was progeni- 
tor of the Dana family in America. Jonathan descended through Ben- 
jamin and his father, William. Jonathan married three times: the 
first in 1762 to Hannah White of Brookline who was the daughter of 
Moses and Rachel Davis White. She died in 1794, and in 1797 he mar- 
ried Elizabeth Shedd of Roxbury. She died two years later, and in 
1806 he married Fanny Parmenter of Sudbury who died in 1809. He had 
twelve children in all, three of whom died in infancy. Only two sons 
grew to maturity and neither apparently married. Some of the family 
later moved to West Lubeck, Maine. 

An amusing story is told of one Thomas Cook, a notorious thief 
well-known in town and noted for several eccentricities, among which 
was that of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. For this 
he was imprisoned frequently in Fort Independence in Boston Harbor. 
He once stole a goose from a countryman 1 s wagon stored under a shed 
at the Dana Tavern. This he took to the old schoolhouse on School 
Street and started to cook it. Squire Sharp, a justice of the peace 
and a school committee member, lived nearby and saw the smoke coming 
from the schoolhouse. He rushed over and caught the thief red-handed 



Dana Tavern 2 

Cook confessed that he had stolen the goose fromjfthe owner's cart at 

f 

the Dana Tavern. The squire marched him back to the tap-room of the 
Tavern where he discussed the case with those present and gave the 
culprit the choice of a public whipping or a trial with almost certain 
imprisonment in the Port. Cook, who had a keen memory of the Port, 
chose the whipping which was administered then and there. After that 
he had little appetite for the goose. 

Jonathan was a rather prominent citizen in town and held several 
public offices, including collector of taxes (1778-9), constable, and 
clerk of market. He apparently stood well with the selectmen as some 
of their meetings were held at his tavern. He operated the tavern 
till his death in 1812, and it was continued by his family till 1816 
when it was destroyed by fire. At that fire it is reported that Ben 
Bradley, a notable Brookline character described in an article by the 
writer in the Proceedings of this Society for 1950, saw the fire and 
rushed down from his home on Bradley Kill. He placed a ladder against 
the burning building and rescued a woman and a child. 

The tavern was never rebuilt after the fire, and the land remained 
idle till 1825 when it was bought by the Baptists. They erected a 
chapel which was later replaced by the large church with the tall 
spire containing the town clock. When the Baptists moved to their 
fine new stone church at Coolidge Corner they sold the old church to 
the Presbyterians who still occupy it. 



RICHARDS TAVERN 



This tavern stood on the northeast corner of what is now Heath 
Street and Hammond Street at Chestnut Hill. It was built about 1770 
by Elhanan Winchester with the aid of the "New Lights", as the followers 
of the 17th century revivalist, George Whitfield, were called. It was 
a large house with a good-sized room on the first floor where their 
New Light meetings were held. Unlike most houses of that time, there 
were four chimneys - one at each corner instead of the usual single 
chimney in the center. The main door opened on Sherburne Road (now 
Heath Street), the "Great Road" so-called, along which the post riders 
and coaches from Boston passed on their six days 1 journey to New York. 

In this house was born the Rev. Elhanan Winchester, Jr., a leader 
in the Baptist denomination. He became famous as a Baptist preacher 
throughout New England and in the South. He converted his father of 
the same name who was then a member of the First Parish in Brookline. 

In 1786 the great house was sold to Ebenezer White and then went 
to his son, John White. Prom him it was bought by Ebenezer Richards 
who turned it into a tavern. In 1785 a stage coach line of 
"unparalled speed" had been inaugurated by which, according to its 
advertisement, a "merchant could leave Boston Monday morning and ar- 
rive in New York on Thursday evening." These coaches turned in at 
the Richards Tavern to change horses in the yard while the passengers 
refreshed themselves in the tap room. 

Until 1810 the traffic continued to pass the front steps, following 
the ancient trail of the Indians. Then a great innovation came about 
when the Worcester Turnpike wasopened. The new turnpike, which here 
came close to Sherburne Road, passed to the rear of the tavern. A 
gate was thrown across the turnpike at this point and a toll of 25 
cents was collected from each carriage. This brought plenty of 



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Richards Tavern 2 



patronage to the old tavern, not only from the travellers but also 
from parties driving out from Boston bent on a good time. Here they 
dined, danced, and tried their luck at the game of nine pins on the 
well-kept lawn. The tavern became quite noted for these parties. 

In the 1830*3, when it became apparent that the railroad, then 
being built between Boston and Worcester, would take much of the traf- 
fic from the turnpike, the building was discontinued as a hotel. The 
turnpike became little used and in poor repair until 1903 when the 
Boston and Worcester street railroad began operating the Worcester 
car line. 

The Richard Tavern was afterwards owned by Henry Pettee and later 
by Mark W. Sheafe from whom it was bought in 1853 by William Fegan 
who occupied it till 1880. Mr. Fegan took great pride in his lawn 
which took on the smooth greeness of the old nine pin days. It be- 
came surrounded by three-decker wooden apartments, but still pre- 
served something of the dignity of colonial days. Mr. Fegan' s son 
helped to remove the old toll gate, and when the old tavern was pulled 
down in 1928 an ancient pulpit was found stored away in the cellar - 
a relic of the days before the Revolution when Deacon Elhanan Wincheste 
held meetings for the New Lights. 



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There were two other taverns of somewhat less importance 
in Brookline: 

The Reservoir Hotel located on the south side of Beacon 
Street opposite Englewood Avenue near the present site of the 
Leyden Church. This was built some time before 1873 when it 
first appeared on the assessors 1 list. It was called the 
Simonds (or Symonds ) in 1879. Purchased by the West End Land 
Company in 1887, it was probably torn down soon after that. 

The Hawthorn Inn was located on Harvard Street near what 
is now Lawton Street. It was originally located on Parker Hill 
in Boston, and later on^the small hill^which was later levelled 
off ; on Harvard Street near the Allston line.^ There are photo- 
graphs but no further data on both these Inns in the Brookline 
Public Library.